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SpaceX Starlink satellites caused a stir over western Europe

We woke up today to many email questions from EarthSky readers in Europe, who saw a line of lights last night (April 19, 2020), trailing each other across the sky. Some on Twitter compared them to a string of Christmas lights, although they were all one color, and they moved. Others weren’t so gentle in their descriptions, because, indeed, these were the SpaceX Starlink satellites, which some fear will ruin the night sky for astronomy. The satellites seen last night over Europe were part of a much-larger group of thousands of satellites that SpaceX has launched or will launch to low-Earth orbit, with the goal of providing global Internet access. For example, Chris Jones wrote to EarthSky:

Hi, you’re probably inundated with the same question this evening but, I watched approximately 30 ‘star like’ objects traveling at speed from a general west to east direction at around 21:50 GMT. They all seemed to be in-line following each other … Now I realize we are having the Lyrid meteor showers at present but didn’t expect them to be in such a uniform trajectory …

Right! The meteors would not look like these artificial satellites did; instead, meteors are bright streaks across the sky that typically appear one by one, or just a few at a time. The Starlink satellites, on the other hand, can be seen in a group – sometimes referred to as a “constellation” of satellites – all moving across the sky together.

The video above, by the way, was posted last night by ViralVideoLab. There’s not much of a description at VVL’s YouTube page, but the video itself appears to be the same one posted by the Daily Mail last night. Both videos show the SpaceX satellites, as you would see them in the night sky. The Daily Mail video is below. If you go to YouTube, and search for “Starlink satellites,” you can find a number of videos that look just like this one, showing various sightings of Starlink satellites


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